Using powers of persuasion to emerge from the past and into a brighter future
Deb Dedrick is a fireball of energy and a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur.” Over the past 20+ years, she has run as many as five companies at one time, and raised four children. And, in her most recent one, she’s led a sales expansion and growth with help from the SBA and its resource partners.
In 2000, she took on the entrepreneurial venture as CEO of her family’s struggling tool & Die shop, Dedrick Tool & Die. Dedrick saw the precision machine business as “having become complacent.” Equipment was old and production processes hadn’t been changed in over two decades. She implemented a new software package to streamline production which she says was a “…big challenge. I had to do a lot of persuading and act as an influencer in order to get buy-in from staff and clients."
Dedrick’s powers of persuasion worked. The company became more in-line with the times, productive, and landed some stable clients. This allowed Dedrick Tool & Die to, as Dedrick said, “coast through with surface thinking.” But about a year ago, one of those stable clients was thinking of closing, which would leave Dedrick with a loss of income that would potentially cripple her family’s company.
In 2016, Dedrick stopped by the SBA Indiana District Office for help. “I wanted to grow my shop,” she said. “I had the Woman Owned Business Certification and didn’t know how to use it.”
The Indiana District Office recommended Dedrick contact two SBA resource partners in her area, the Northeastern Indiana Small Business Development Corporation (ISBDC) and the Indiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in Fort Wayne, who provide free one-on-one mentoring services to entrepreneurs.
“When Deb came to us this past spring, she informed us that 70% of her sales were to an automotive supplier who was moving,” PTAC Procurement Specialist Gil Perry said. “Her need to replace sales was immediate. PTAC and ISBDC pitched in to strengthen her business plan to help with networking and marketing.”
Perry said one of the keys to success for Dedrick is client diversification. He said that PTAC has guided Dedrick through several required registrations to position her company to sell manufacturing services to local, state, and federal agencies and subcontractors, a base Dedrick hadn’t used before. Perry said PTAC has also made several industry networking recommendations which he says Dedrick has taken to heart.
“Deb has taken recommendations, and with her dynamic, energetic personality, is now aggressively selling Dedrick Tool & Die services. She is trying very hard to diversify customers and industries.”
Dedrick has also kept in contact with the SBA Indiana District Office and has taken advantage of the Emerging Leaders course, an intense, ‘mini-MBA style’ program which teaches established entrepreneurs like Dedrick how to work on their business, instead of just in it. Dedrick graduated with her fellow Emerging Leaders classmates in October 2017 and said it was well worth the 100 hours and seven months of coursework. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but being involved with Emerging Leaders really re-ignited my passion for manufacturing and owning my own business.”
During this past year, Dedrick also took advantage of a SBA resource she is extremely proud of—the opportunity to be part of a manufacturing roundtable on May 3rd with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon.
“I felt privileged to be included and I felt heard,” Dedrick said. Topics of discussion included manufacturing incentives, tax benefits, and health benefits. Dedrick also got the sense that the Administrator feels, as she does, that there is a lack of skilled workers in the country, which is something she’d like to use her company to change by opening training opportunities to local youth.
“Some kids tend to have a limited view of education and a lot of them aren’t able to go to college,” Dedrick said. In the future, I’d like to work with organizations that provide training programs for youth so they can learn a trade so we can replenish our skilled labor force in the industry. I believe in American manufacturing,” she said, “and plan on supporting it into the next generation.”